Turner Sports, which broadcasts and operates NBA TV and NBA.com, said in a statement: “We are all saddened by the tragic death of Sekou,” he said. “His commitment to journalists and the basketball community is huge and we will think of his warm personality.”
Smith has dominated the NBA for more than 20 years, including 11 years with Turner Sports, which, like CNN, is owned by WarnerMedia.
“The NBA mourns the death of Sekou Smith, a dear member of the NBA family. Sekou is one of the most respected and dedicated journalists in the NBA and a formidable friend to many across the league,” NBA Director Adam Silver said in a statement.
“The love of Sekou football is clear to everyone who knows him and it shines all the time in his work. Our sincere condolences go out to his wives, Heather, and their children, Gabriel, Rielly and Cameron,” Silver said.
Smith began his career as a sports journalist at The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1994, according to LinkedIn. He then worked four years each year at The Indianapolis Star and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution before joining Turner Sports.
Beloved in basketball, Smith’s death – on the anniversary of Kobe Bryant’s death just half a year ago – has been hailed by many players and coaches.
“I have known him since he was with AJC, but I was lucky to work with him on NBA TV,” wrote Van Gundy. “I need to know him well enough to know three things – I’m lucky to have spent time with him, I want to get to know him better and he is a good person.”
Dwyane Wade, the Miami Heat storyteller, echoed those sentiments.
And in Smith’s Atlanta hometown, the Hawks shared a few words about his departure, as Smith led the team for five years.
Lloyd Pierce, Hawks’ head coach, said in a postgame interview Tuesday that it was a “tense day, with both Bryant’s anniversary and news about Smith, calling him” a real person just like in the industry. “